Stress is a part of life. It is inescapable. In fact, we've all experienced the occasional nervous stomach, shaky hands, or racing heart when confronted with an uncomfortable situation. Although stress comes in many shapes and forms, one thing remains constant; it's unavoidable. But that isn't always a bad thing.
According to the clinical studies, the right amount of stress is a positive force -- helping us do our best work and keeping us alert, energetic and engaged in the world around us. At its optimum level, stress motivates us to perform well under pressure. Yet if high levels of unwanted stress are not properly managed, your health and sense of well being can suffer greatly.
So while you can't eliminate negative stress, you can reduce its effects. Here are five stress busters I recommend trying the next time you feel your temperature start to rise when faced with a stressful situation.
Evaluate the situation objectively.
Take a deep breath and try and examine your situation without emotion. Free your mind of negative emotions. Try to understand why the stressful event happened in the first place. It's not always easy to let go of your frustration but resist pity parties and gripe sessions. Such wallowing can prolong stress and delay a solution. It may be helpful to reach out to a friend who will NOT necessarily take your side, but who can help you be objective.
Walk away -- renew your positive energy.
Try to avoid replaying the events in your mind. It'll just create a home for stress hormones and contribute to a depressed mood, weakened immune system and clouded judgment. Stabilize the situation if it's critical, then walk away and do something you enjoy that will renew your energy. Avoid looking for solutions to the problem when your energy is low. This is a good time to meditate, practice deep breathing, or do the dishes! Allow your mind to drift away from the problem at hand (assuming it's not life-threatening).
Or, grab your yoga pants. The Cleveland Clinic recommends giving yourself frequent breaks to refresh your body and mind. Yoga offers simple muscle stretches and deep breathing exercises which help to rejuvenate your mind and spirit. The clinic also recommends taking bubble baths and writing in your journal to decompress.
Consider alternate solutions.
With a new, more positive outlook you can start looking for solutions to your stress where possible. Once you relax your mind you'll be amazed how easily the answers will come to you. You might even end up with multiple options.
Accept the limits of time/resources and make a realistic schedule.
Expecting to complete far too much within a limited time frame is usually the culprit of work stress. Make a list of each task you want or need to complete and figure out how long each one should take. Stay focused. If the task takes longer, stick with it. Don't work yourself into a stressful state because you haven't made it to the next task.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Consider it your best defense against stress. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, you give your body the chance to function optimally. Exercise regularly. Sleep seven to eight hours a night. Eat balanced meals. Drink plenty of water. Limit consumption of alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and sugar. Take time-outs for yourself.
Be sure to check out the Stress Less Chill Kit with guided meditations, visualizations and breathing exercises to help you melt stress and anxiety in minutes! And Dr. Andrea's 5-Step mindfulness meditation, The Attunement Process, provides a simple mental training routine to lower stress and build resilience.